I love making collages, always have. I don’t know why, exactly, but I do know that scrap books are important part of recording decades and how culture relates to a certain time frame. Flick through a scrap book and you can see trends changing, things evolving, and how fashion comes and goes. I was reminded of this when I saw an old lady on the bus clutching a scrap book and smiling as she flipped the pages slowly, savouring the photographs.
I must have been staring for a while when she said, “do you want to see?” Just that: do you want to see, and no “hello”. I liked the way she smiled at me, accepting me and not even thinking for a second that I might be some dodgy character. Her innocence was both shocking and refreshing.
I said I did, and she started at the beginning.
Five minutes and twenty pages through, I knew much more about this Mildred character’s life than maybe even some of her friends did. I knew she had been married at fifteen, had had a sibling dna test at eighteen, and had spent many happy years with her husband, who had been a well-respected boxer. It was a great bus ride into town: for once I was able to zone-out from all the noise of the teenagers and listen to history. I barely registered we were moving the whole time, which now seems absurd considering who terrible the suspension on the bus was.
As she got off, Mildred tapped her scrap book and smiled. I noticed that on the side of her hat that had been hidden there was a small pink rose pinned to it.
“Goodbye,” I said, “say hello to Harry,” and she said she would do and gave a sweet little curtsy. I hoped I might meet her again and see what the rest of the book had in it.
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